After churning out Twinkies, Ho Hos and Wonder Bread for more than 80 years, Hostess Brands announced plans on Nov. 16 to shut down. The story's not over yet — the company agreed to mediation with striking workers on Nov. 19 — but some of the language sounds woefully familiar.
“We deeply regret the necessity of today’s decision, but we do not have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike,” said Gregory F. Rayburn, the chief executive officer. “Hostess Brands will move promptly to lay off most of its 18,500-member work force and focus on selling its assets to the highest bidders.”
In addition to dozens of baking and distribution facilities around the country, Hostess Brands will sell off its popular brands, including Hostess, Drakes and Dolly Madison, as well as bread brands Wonder, Nature’s Pride, Merita, Home Pride, Butternut and Beefsteak. Whether they will be revived by another owner remains to be seen.
If they’re not, these beloved brands will join a list of other iconic names that have fallen by the wayside, never to be heard from again. Here’s a list of 10 brands that became household names before disappearing from the market for good.
Pan Am: The airline was founded in 1927 and originally provided mail and passenger service between Florida and Cuba. The airline expanded from there, reaching its peak in the late 1960s and early 1970s when it carried more than 6 million passengers a year to 86 different countries. However, by the 1980s the company's profits began to weaken and in 1991, the airline officially shut down. It re-emerged in 1997, but lasted for just one year before closing again.
E.F. Hutton: Founded in 1940, E.F. Hutton grew to become one of the most prominent financial firms in the U.S. The company's downfall began in the 1980s, when it was uncovered that it had been conducting mail and wire fraud. As the firm's debt grew, it was eventually acquired by Shearson Lehman Brothers in 1988.
Oldsmobile: A brand of General Motors, Oldsmobile produced more than 35 million cars in its 107-year history. Despite its popularity over the years, GM announced in 2000 that it would be phasing out the brand, and four years later the last Oldsmobile, an Alero, rolled off the assembly line.
Woolworth: Founded in 1879, Woolworth grew to become the largest world's largest department store chain in 1979. As the company continued to expand and add specialty retailers, the Woolworth department stores began to suffer. The chain initially closed 400 of its locations in 1993; the rest of them followed four years later.
Palm: While the life of Palm Computing wasn't as long as other iconic brands, it was just as impressive. Launched in 1992, the company really took off four years later with the introduction of the Palm Pilot. The PDA was an instant success and led to the company's eventual purchase in 1997 by 3Com. Three years later, Palm went public with an opening-day valuation of $53 billion. However, as smartphones began to take rise in the mid-2000s, the consumer interest in Palm diminished. After announcing first-quarter losses of $22 million in 2010, the company was purchased by HP for $1.2 billion. At that time, all Palm-related devices were rebranded HP.
TWA: Short for Trans World Airlines, TWA was founded in 1930 with the merger of Western Air and Transcontinental Air Transport. The airline flourished in the 1930s and '40s under the direction of billionaire Howard Hughes. Its downfall can be traced back to the 1980s, when it was acquired by Carl Icahn, who pushed for the company to turn private. The move saddled the company with debt and eventually led to TWA filing for bankruptcy in both 1992 and 1995. The TWA brand eventually shut for good when the airline was acquired by American Airlines in 2001.
Kenner Products: Originally founded in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1947 by brothers Albert, Phillip and Joseph Steiner, Kenner Products was a toy company best known it its early years for producing the Bubble-Matic Gun and the Easy Bake Oven. While the company was purchased by General Mills in 1967, the brand continued on, and its profits soared in the 1970s and '80s thanks to the success of its line of Star Wars-related toys. The brand was acquired in 1987 by the Tonka Corp., which eventually was purchased by Hasbro in 1991. In the following years, the Kenner brand was folded into the Hasbro toy lines, and in 2001, the name was erased for good when its Cincinnati operations were officially closed.
Amoco: Originally known as Standard Oil, Amoco opened its first service station in Minneapolis, in 1912. The company grew throughout the U.S., taking in more than $2 billion in income in 1961. Thirty years later, the company earned record revenues of $31.58 billion and a net income of $1.91 billion. The following year, profits began to fall, which eventually led to a merger with competitor BP in 1998. Four years later, all Amoco stations and operations were rebranded BP.
Tower Records: The first Tower Records store was opened in 1960 in Sacramento, Calif. The chain of music stores saw rapid growth in the coming years, expanding throughout California and the rest of the U.S. By the mid-1990s, there were more than 200 Tower stores around the world, generating $1 billion a year in sales. But as larger retailers like Best Buy and Wal-Mart began selling music and downloadable music started to take hold, Tower's profits began to dwindle. The company first filed for bankruptcy in 2004, and then again in 2006, which eventually led to the retailer being liquidated and shut for good.
Borders: The Borders bookstore chain, launched in 1971 in Ann Arbor, Mich., was one of the most recent iconic brands to shutter its doors. Over the years, the company grew to more than 650 stores both in the U.S. and abroad. Despite its popularity, company profits began to decline in 2001, and by 2010, with eBooks at the height of their popularity, Borders was losing $185 million a year. The following year, Borders filed for bankruptcy and the liquidation process began. The chain eventually closed all its stores and sold its website to rival Barnes & Noble.